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Encyclopedia > Poststructuralism

Post-structuralism is a body of work that followed in the wake of structuralism, and sought to understand the Western world as a network of structures, as in structuralism, but in which such structures are ordered primarily by local, shifting differences (as in deconstruction) rather than grand binary oppositions and hierarchies (as in structuralism).

Post-structuralism is most clearly distinct from structuralism in its rejection of structuralism's tendency to seek simple, universal, and hierarchical structures. Post-structuralists challenge the structuralist claim to be a critical metalanguage by which all text can be translated, arguing that a neutral omniscient view outside the realm of text is impossible. Instead, they pursue an infinite play of signifiers and do not attempt to impose, or privilege, one reading of them over another. Appropriately, within the discipline of post-structuralism there are few theories in agreement, but all take as their starting point a critique of structuralism. Post-structuralist investigations tend to be politically oriented, as many of them believe the world we think we inhabit is merely a social construct with different ideologies pushing for hegemony.

Key post-structuralists are the historian Michel Foucault and the philosphers Jean-François Lyotard and Jacques Derrida. The works of Roland Barthes straddle the divide between structuralism and post-structuralism. Also important to the movement are Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Frederic Jameson.

See also

postmodernism -- structuralism -- recursionism

  Results from FactBites:
poststructuralism (3134 words)
Poststructuralism as a contemporary philosophical movement offers a range of theories (of the text), critiques (of institutions), new concepts, and forms of analysis (of power) which are relevant and significant for the study of education, but also it offers a range of writings explicitly devoted to education.
Poststructuralism can be characterized as a mode of thinking, a style of philosophizing, and a kind of writing yet the term should not be used to convey a sense of homogeneity, singularity and unity.
Poststructuralism challenges the rationalism and realism that structuralism continues from positivism, with its promethium faith in scientific method, in progress, and in the capacity of the structuralist approach to discern and identify universal structures of all cultures and the human mind.
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